For those of us from LA, we’re used to the occasional absurdity, superficiality, and cartoon-like escapades you encounter in LA. But after spending so long here, we can forget what it looks like for people who come to the City of Angels for the first time. We forget how ridiculous it may seem to those from other cultures.
Luckily, Italian rock stars Maneskin have pointed that out via the brilliant new single and video, “Supermodel.” In the high-energy, comedic rocker video, the band shows us how much LA is like those who come here from the outside and attend parties where pools are filled with Strawberry Jell-O so people can wrestle.
If it doesn’t inspire a great parody, you don’t listen to the songs the universe sends you. As fun and entertaining as it was, and the conversation that followed was a lot of fun, as you’ll see, that’s just part of the craziness of the final year of Maneskin’s meteoric career.
When I spoke on Zoom with Thomas Raggi (guitar), Damiano David (vocals) and Ethan Torchio (drums) they were backstage at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. They also have a song about the new Elvis film and opened for the Rolling Stones. With everything going on, we had a lot to discuss, starting with the Jell-O style battle of the bands.
Steve Baltin: Is it pretty crazy for you these days?
(overlapping conversation) Yeah.
Damiano David: Yes, we walk around.
Baltin: Is he a good fool?
David: Of course he’s a good fool. We’re doing a lot of amazing things, so we’re very happy.
Baltin: I love that “Supermodel” was inspired by LA because being from LA, I think I know a lot of those people in the song. (Laughs) What was your favorite shot of LA at the time that inspired the song?
Thomas Raggi: My favorites are the restaurateurs (they laugh). When they come to your table and say, “Yeah, yeah, good meal. I love them, they are my favourites. And also party public relations.
Baltin: What was the funniest party you’ve been to here?
David: I can’t remember the name of the place but they fought Jell-O. It was amazing. They filled a pool with Strawberry Jell-O and people fought in it and it was hilarious.
Ethan Torchio: It was great.
Baltin: Which group would you like to have a friendly Jell-O fight with and in what flavor?
Torchio: I love it.
David: I would say Foo Fighters (they laugh).
Raggi: Dave Grohl is a bit harsh.
David: Yeah, they would probably kill us.
Raggi: I’ll take the Smiths because they’re so calm (they laugh).
Torchio: I would say Black Sabbath (they laugh).
Baltin: I like those, but I think Ozzy Osbourne at 73 is still going to kick everybody’s ass.
(overlapping conversation) Yeah.
Baltin: And what flavor for each of you?
David: I would say chocolate.
Raggi: I don’t know, Jell-O beer.
Torchio: I would say mango (they crack).
Baltin: Please make this your next music video.
David: Yes, we will try.
Baltin: I saw you at ALTer EGO and I love that you have fun with it too. Are there any artists you admire for that?
David: Yeah, it’s something that’s close to our hearts. When we feel things are getting too serious, we always try to talk about it and just say we need to take ourselves less seriously. But I think it’s something we’re good at because it’s very easy for us not to take ourselves too seriously. I also don’t think any of us like this image of the untouchable, feelingless artist. It’s not like real humans. We want to be very human because we want to represent ourselves and we are normal guys with the only fact that we are good at writing songs. So we always want to keep this fun because otherwise it’s just a job.
Raggi: We chose music because we don’t want to work.
Torchio: We always see success and fame as a consequence of what we really do, what we really want to do because music is our main passion and I think it’s something that won’t change at all. .
Baltin: Do you think the fact that you had to work hard, do things like play in the streets for four hours, before success kept you grounded?
David: I think what you said is very true. Once you have to carry your instrument for five fucking miles and you’ve been playing on the street for four hours and no one cares about you and no one gives you money to play and no one wants you you were playing, I think once you have gone through that everything is easier and you can also be grateful for everything you get. Now, every time we find ourselves in a huge studio with all the amazing equipment and stuff, we’re amazed and it’s very emotional for us to get there and say to ourselves, “Post Malone recorded a song here a while ago. two months old and the Strokes used to play here.” We’re always like, “Oh my god.” We always think in garage mode. So everything is amazing for us.
Raggi: And also in any kind of work or sport or whatever, if you like what you do, you don’t care about people’s opinion.
Baltin: Was there a defining moment that blew your mind?
David: There are a lot of moments like that, like already the fact that we are here at The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon for the second time in six months, crazy. We grew up watching tapes of this show with our favorite artist and now we are here for the second fucking time. And yes also we chatted with Mick Jagger in the most relaxed way, in his dressing room, and he knew us. He knew what we were doing, our songs and our career. Chris Martin invited us to his house and this and that. The AMAs we sat next to J. Lo. We have a lot like “How did I get here?”
Torchio: For me, personally, it was the Stones opener. Only because back then we only had the opportunity to chat with huge musicians and we are so young. At the same time the crowd, playing a stadium for the first time.
Baltin: There is of course a great history of Italian cinema. Is that where your sense of style comes from?
Raggi: We don’t have references. It’s more that we always liked to dress up while we played because we always thought that your image was also a way to spread your message. So if your image and your music match, you’ll just be more powerful. It’s not about being beautiful, it’s about being efficient, which is another thing. We just see things we like and we want to reinterpret them. As we do the same with songs. When we do a cover, maybe we do a cover by an artist that we don’t even listen to, but we just like that particular song and we’re like, ‘Okay, we can put our spin on it. ” Everything is very natural and we always try not to think too much.
Baltin: What’s your favorite cover you’ve done so far?
David: For me, we just did the cover of “If I Can Dream” for the Elvis movie and I’m so proud of it.
Torchino: I like the cover of Elvis so much too, it’s something special.
Baltin: So you worked with Max Martin on the song “Supermodel”, Baz Luhrmann on the Elvis film and opened for the Stones. Each of them has their own style and their own way of working. How do you integrate all these different techniques into your songwriting?
Raggi: When it comes to music, we never want to be too strict about anything. Of course our main goal is always to sound like a band because we are a band and we want to make it very clear that there is a drummer playing, a bassist and a guitarist. But we also like to be affected by what is happening around us. So we like working with Max because he didn’t change anything, but he added something. And it was super cool. And the same with Baz because he asked us to play this song, which was not the most natural thing for us to do. It’s a ballad and we do more up-tempo stuff. But we said, “Okay, let’s try and challenge ourselves because the song has a special meaning.” There are a lot of different reasons why we tried to do this and by trying to get out of our comfort zone we got something amazing for us. And I think that’s the main thing. Try to work and collaborate with people who are always trying to push you out of your comfort zone because as a band what we want to try to avoid is being repetitive. There are four of us and we all have different backgrounds and instruments and we can do whatever we want. So if we’re repeating ourselves, there’s a fucking problem.